ALLENTOWN: Borough welcomes new bank

Officials launch new branch of First Commerce

By James McEvoy, Managing Editor
   ALLENTOWN — Borough officials and representatives of First Commerce Bank celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony commemorating the opening of a new branch of the financial institution June 8.
   The bank, which formally held its grand opening last month, is located at 40 Main St.
   At the ceremony, President and CEO of First Commerce Bank C. Herbert Schneider noted that they are no strangers to the borough, having opened First Washington Bank, which eventually became a Fulton Bank.
   ”It’s even more overwhelming to think about the fact that just a few doors down from us (bank chairman) Abe (Opatut) and I got to open that bank in May of 1992 and it is with great joy and excitement that we get to come back to Allentown,” Mr. Schneider said.
   He also lauded borough officials for welcoming them back to the community.
   ”We’re very happy to be here,” he said. “I do want to say Allentown and their professionals never could have treated us any nicer. They welcomed us to come into their community.”
   Both borough and bank officials noted the benefits the institution will bring to the community. In addition to providing a place to bank, four of the bank’s eight employees are borough residents.
   In addition, to commemorate the occasion, bank representatives presented a $500 check to Frank Guido of the borough’s first aid squad.
   After the ceremony Mayor Stu Fierstein said several banks had previously looked at the property and were wary due to volume concerns, that the town wasn’t big for one bank, let alone two.
   ”The fact that they have faith in this community and they expect to be a local, vibrant part of the town I would hope that the community responds,” he said. “This is bringing local banking back to the community and it couldn’t be a nicer group of people to do it for the town.”
   Karen Zoda, senior vice president of retail banking, said the building, previously occupied by Bank of America, had been renovated in advance of the grand opening.
   Artist Susan Winter of Hightstown has been commissioned to depict historic Allentown landmarks in paintings that will adorn the bank’s walls.
For a related photo, see Page 3A.